Grizzly bear management in Yellowstone National Park: The heart of recovery in the Yellowstone Ecosystem

By:  and 
Edited by: Dale R. McCulloughKoichi Kaji, and Masami Yamanaka



Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) management in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in the past quarter century has resulted in more than doubling of the population from around 200 to more than 500, expansion of range back into habitats where the bear has extirpated more than a century ago, and a move toward removal from the U.S. Endangered Species list. At the center of this success story are the management programs in Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Regulations that restrict human activity, camping, and food storage, elimination of human food and garbage as attractants, and ranger attendance of roadside bears have all resulted in the population of grizzlies in YNP approaching carrying capacity. Recent studies suggest, however, that YNP alone is too small to support the current population, making management beyond the park boundary important and necessary to the demographics of the population as a whole. Demographic analyses suggest a source-sink dynamic exists within the GYE, with YNP and lands outside the park within the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone (RZ) representing source habitats, whereas lands beyond the RZ constitute sinks. The source-sink demography in the GYE is indicative of carnivore conservation issues worldwide where many national parks or preserves designed to protect out natural resources are inadequate in size or shape to provide all necessary life history requirements for these wide-ranging species. Additionally, wide-ranging behavior and long-distance dispersal seem inherent to large carnivores, so mortality around the edges is virtually inevitable, and conservation in the GYE is inextricably linked to management regimes not only within YNP, but within the GYE as a whole. We discuss those needs here.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Title Grizzly bear management in Yellowstone National Park: The heart of recovery in the Yellowstone Ecosystem
Year Published 2006
Language English, Japanese
Publisher Shiretoko Nature Foundation
Publisher location Hokkaido, Japan
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 7 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Wildlife in Shiretoko and Yellowstone National Parks: Lessons in Wildlife Conservation from Two World Heritage Sites
First page 232
Last page 238
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Yellowstone National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N